• Published 10th Sep 2013
  • 573 Views, 30 Comments

Hunted - P-Russ

Cast from his own pack, Stonemaker must flee from his own kin, and hope that he doesn't bring their fury upon those along his way...

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Chapter Five: Strings

Chapter Five:

Torches flickered in sconces along the great stairway, fighting back the all consuming darkness that pervaded the den. The stair was the central route throughout the entire den, the best way to get from floor to floor, but what was once a bustling intersection, was now only populated by rats and the few souls brave enough to face their new “leadership.”

Guards were stationed along every landing, not the usual guards though, these were brutes and thugs, the ruthless legion of enforcers that the Diamond Nation sends to newly “liberated” dens to keep the peace, and the inhabitants oppressed. A few patrolled the lower floors, where the dormitories were located, whispers were silenced as they walked, fearful gazes cast their way. There was no resistance to the regime, they had made sure of that. The few who dared to rebel were quickly weeded out, brutally tortured publicly, and either executed, or set out in the foothills to be hunted down by the new alpha’s personal guard. Most of the huddled forms were men, the women being sent to the kitchens on the floor above, and the children being sent to the dungeons on the lowest floor.

Above the kitchens were the barracks, once the home of the local hunters and guards. Now the bunks were given to the “Peace Keepers”, most of the old military having been executed with the change of alphas. This was also the limit of where the populace was free to go, anyone found on or above this level was assumed to have been trying to escape, and made an example of. There were many examples made in the first few days.

The next floor was the Council’s chambers, where the elders of the pack were housed, and the elders convened on matters of significance and advised the alpha. Now the elders were cast into the dorms with the rest of the pack, and the officers and elite of the “Peace Keepers” took over their abodes, putting a stop to any rival power in the pack’s hierarchy.

The top floor was the Great Hall. Pillars reached far to the ceiling, which was left dark, giving a sense of endlessness and mystery to the actual height of the hall. At one end was the dais, on which rested a singular obsidian throne. In place of the flanking thrones, now rested a pillar on one side, and a gallows on the other. The stone around both was dyed red with blood.

The new alpha reclined in the throne, looking absolutely bored. This was a very worrying prospect for any of the guards. When he was bored pain was sure to follow, and until now, he had a “dissenter” to entertain himself, but now? No one was left in the dungeons, beside the children, who were needed to keep the remaining dogs in line. No one was there to sate the sadistic tendencies of the alpha, and the guards could almost see the violence building up in him.

At the other end of the hall, a oaken door was set into the stone. Intricate carvings arched over the rounded door, spreading out into murals that covered the entire back wall, stretching up into the indeterminate darkness of the ceiling.

The silence of the hall was shattered by the creaking of un-oiled iron hinges, shrieking their protests of use to all. A tall cloaked shape entered the hall, wind blowing in around their feet. It strode forward, silent save for the whisperings of the cloak, and the small metallic ringings of the armor hidden underneath it.

Firestone stood, and stepped forward, off of the edge of the dais. He stood still as the form approached him. Quickly, and without hesitation, the figure gave a scroll to Firestone, who looked down at the seal to identify the sender, and looked back up. He gave a sharp intake of breath. The figure had vanished. No trace left behind, no evidence of it ever being there besides the bewilderment of the guards and the scroll now in the hands of the new alpha.

Sighing inwardly, Firestone returned to his throne, and opened the scroll. He had recognized the seal, a paw with a diamond within the center pad. He had also noted the small inscription on one of the raised edges of the seal. “ENCD.”

Of course he would code it. He doesn’t trust me… Not that I blame him of course, but it does get rather annoying.

He ran a claw under the seal, breaking the wax and freeing the message.

It HaS ComE To My AttentioN ThaT TherE Has BeeN SomE TroublE WitH ThE NeW WatcH ToweR DesignS, SpecificallY In ImplementinG TheM In ThE NewlY AcquireD RegioN.

After a few minutes of translating the actual message. Firestone leaned back into his throne and sighed again.

“I am going to rest. No disturbances. Any violation and you will all suffer for it,” he rose from the throne and walked to the wall behind the dais. Pressing his paw against one of the sconces, a door silently swung open from the rock face. He stepped into the room beyond, a finely furnished bedroom lay before him. Lush carpeting silenced his paws as he plodded toward the ornate wooden bed. Small lamps hung on the ceiling casting a steady light across the lavish quarters, glinting off of the myriad of strange knives, forceps, and many other devious devices, all lovingly polished to a gleam, hanging from stained belts.

Firestone reached out and pulled a lever near the bed. A series of clicks reverberated throughout the residence. Slowly, the lanterns that adorned the roof retracted into small crevasses, dimming the light levels within the chamber to something akin to moonlight.

Laying back, he closed his eyes and waited. His breathing deepened, his heartbeat slowed, the tension within his muscles unwound leaving him limp on the soft mattress. His eyes flickered underneath their lids for a minute, but became still. Sleep claimed him, dragging him into its folds, obscuring him from all outside his own head, but leaving him to the mercy of those who knew the secrets of the mind.

Firestone stood on a large stone pillar. Stars shone all around him, both above and below the horizon. He looked around walked to the edge of the hexagonal surface he was on. As he reached the edge, he heard a voice from behind him.
“Report, Firestone,” two words. Only two words, yet they carried the strength of an army, the rage of a dragon, and the control of a master.

Firestone turned to address the towering shadow that now occupied the center of the pillar. Falling onto his knees, head bowed, he spoke, “My lord. The valleys are now fully under my-*ahem* your control. It is just as you planned, my fool of a brother refused my challenge, and is now being hunted by the best you gave me. He will not survive the week.”

“Yes, you have not yet failed me. Take care that you keep it that way.”

Firestone’s eyes widened slightly at the thought. “Of course, my lord… ahhh, however, he did… uhhh… retain the box… but he has it on him and it will be retrieved upon his death my lord. I have this entirely under control.”

“One task, you had one task. The box was all that I had asked for, in return I granted you the den and all the riches of the mountains. You have not yet fulfilled your portion of the bargain, and yet you presume to crown yourself?” The figure growled.

“NO, NEVER MY LORD. I was merely ruling in your absence, I would NEVER deem myself worthy to clai-”

SILENCE,The figure roared, “I have heard enough groveling from you. Fix your mistake by the time I arrive, or you WILL answer to me, personally.”
The figure fades into the starry background, leaving nothing but his words behind.

Firestone shivered involuntarily, the sounds reverberating around his consciousness feeling like a river of oil on his skin. I should probably just get this done quickly then… I do not like the idea of tripping up again, especially when HE decides to make a personal call… Nothing I can do here though…

Firestone’s eyes flickered under their lids before opening to the dim light of his personal chambers. With a sigh he sat up on the edge of the mattress and flipped the lever to lower the lights.

This is not good… the bastard is going to get me killed… he does have the hunters after him though… all should fall into place, I shouldn’t need to worry about this.

Rolling his shoulders, Firestone rose from the bed with a rapport of pops and cracks. With a sigh, he walked back to the door to the great hall. He put his paw on the door itself, and with a light application of pressure, the opening mechanisms triggered, and the door swung itself open. His footsteps echoed within the hall as he reentered. His mind heavy with the implications of his dream, and the worry of failure.

The guards stiffened. Never had they seen Firestone like this, and they had quickly learned to associate new moods with new forms of punishment. Yet this was different. There was no outward rage, no anger or resentment that was the usual. No. What they saw was different, and scared them more than rage could ever hope to.

They saw defeat. Defeat and fear. A presence of dread permeated the air around him, leaving no doubt as to his state of mind, its stench clouding around his person. making all the more obvious his posture as he sat back in his throne. Slumped, shrunken, subdued. Gone was the confidant sprawl that he had before his rest. Now he sat, feeling every edge of the cold stone seat, every indentation in the worn surface. Firestone himself was withdrawn, introspective. Not so much as casting a gloating glance across those that he presided over. No power hungry chuckles, no malicious musings, nothing but a silent vigil of thought.

Fate deemed that this was unoriginal and boring, and thusly shattered his reverie, posthaste.

This shattering was brought via a crashing entrance to the great hall, the doors groaning with the rough treatment. Firestone was roused from his inward thinking by the boom of the door. His pensiveness quickly turning to anger at the interruption. Looking toward the doors he caught sight of the transgressor. A lanky dog sprinting toward him, his bags denoting him as a messenger, looking as if he had been running for a while.

The dog stopped short before the dais, panting heavily. Between his gasps for breath, he said, “Alpha… message… from… hunters… found… traitor…” The dog reached into his satchel and retrieved a small scroll, unmarked and ragged. He passed it to one of the guards, who in turn brought it to Firestone.

He opened the scroll and read through the contents. His earlier rage was quickly overcome with an eerie calm. A smile crept its way onto his face, teeth glinting dangerously in the wavering light of the torches. The messenger trembled, all too aware of the blood stains next to the throne. Firestone rose from the throne, still sporting the smile, and strode toward the dog.

“My my, you must be exhausted from your run. Please make yourself comfortable,” Firestone purred, clapping the dog on the shoulder, and guiding him to a door on the side of the hall, “In fact, I will see to it myself. Allow me to take you to most hospitable of suites, I know that I find them to be some of the best lodgings for one of your stature. All too often those of us with any kind of height must bow to fit that made for the lesser, hmmm?” A nod was all he received. The messenger was unwilling to meet the eye of the Alpha as he was ushered through the doorway into the darkness beyond. If he had looked into Firestones eyes, he would be met with burning embers, seething with malice and anger, fraught with the desire to enact his will upon someone against their will, eager to see blood.

They passed the archway, and the door closed behind them of its own volition. Shutting with all the finality of a headsman’s axe. Sounding the departure of another soul into the depths it guarded.

Author's Note:

Sorry for the delay, but I did say that I would put myself on a time clock.
Also... I have been debating wether or not to go a bit more in-depth into some of the more gory bits, scenarios like the branding etc, and to make the implied torture and bit more than just implied. However, that would require a bit more writing on my part, and I am lazy, so it might slow down the posting rate, not too much probably and might actually speed it up if I get into writing it, and it would also requite a mature tag for the gore, I am leaving this one up to you guys, let me know if you care.
Thanks for reading

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